Photo of Ross Gay

Laura Berglund ’20

Poet, editor, and chapbook author Ross Gay will be visiting campus on February 5, 2020. Because this is our last issue of The Words before his visit, we’re looking a couple of months into the future to make sure you don’t miss out on this important event.  

There will be two opportunities to get to know Gay and his work. He’s leading a student discussion on February 5 in the Old Main 4th Floor Lounge at 3:30 pm, and he will give a reading that night in the Weyerhaeuser Board Room at 5:30 pm.

Gay has published three books of poetry: Against Which (2006), Bringing the Shovel Down (2011), and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (2015). He is an editor at the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’ and the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press. Gay also coauthored two chapbooks of his own: “Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens” (2014) with Aimee Nezhukumatathil and “River” (2014)  with Richard Wehrenberg, Jr. 

He also appeared on the On Being podcast last summer, and in the spirit of Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude and his first collection of essays The Book of Delights (2019), challenged listeners to reconsider how they understand joy.

“Sometimes I think there’s a conception of joy as meaning [something easy],” He told host Krista Tippett,” And to me, joy has nothing to do with ease. And joy has everything to do with the fact that we’re all going to die. That’s actually — when I’m thinking about joy, I’m thinking about that at the same time as something wonderful is happening, some connection is being made in my life, we are also in the process of dying. That is every moment. That is every moment.”

The Book of Delights — Gay’s most recent collection — arose from the pursuit of this very joy. He pushed himself to write 42 essays short over the course of 42 days to mark his 42nd birthday. Gay surpassed this goal many times over. The instances of support and cooperation he encountered throughout the exercise and the positive memories he found within himself culminated in 102 essays on the interactions between joy, loss, and marginalization.

A similar intentionality is visible in the Bloomington Community Orchard: a community garden Gay co-founded to create a safe, community space that supports ecological healing rather than capitalism. Gay also teaches writing at Indiana University in Bloomington. 

Stay tuned for more details as February draws closer — we hope to see you there!